Changes have been ordered to the NHS Covid app to prevent millions being needlessly pinged as exposure alerts rise by more than 60% in a week.
The head of the UK Health Security Agency, Dr Jenny Harries, told the Commons Public Accounts Committee on Thursday that work was being done to “tune” the app.
Ministers have been warned that millions of people could be pinged by the app or ordered to self-isolate by Test and Trace, with infections expected to hit around 100,000 cases a day in the summer.
Dr Harries said changes would be made to ensure it was there “for a purpose, not for annoyance” as more and more people get vaccinated.
“We have a piece of work ongoing at the moment because it is entirely possible to tune the app to ensure that it is appropriate to the risk,” Dr Harries said.
“When the app came into action, we know it has been hugely successful but it has been utilised in a world where we did not have vaccinations.
“So working through what a vaccinated population using the app means is something that we are actively doing at the moment.”
A total of 356,036 alerts were sent to users of the app in England in the week to June 30.
The alerts are currently sent to anyone who has been in close contact with someone who later tests positive for coronavirus – and spending 15 minutes within two metres of someone counts as close contact.
Th number of alerts has risen from 219,391 the previous week – a jump of 62% – and is the highest weekly figure since data was first published in January.
Boris Johnson yesterday urged people not to ditch the Test and Trace Tool, saying: “It is coming to an end.”
It comes after a pub owner urged Brits to ignore NHS Covid app alerts, telling them it was not illegal to not follow the instructions.
Anyone contacted by an NHS Test and Trace worker does have to self-isolate.
But co-founder of chain Yummy Pubs Tim Foster, 40, says the law does not effect those who sign up to the NHS Test and Trace app.
On Twitter, he wrote: “There is no legal requirement to isolate if notified by the app. Only legal requirement is if Test and Trace contact you. Pssst, pass it on.”
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